How to find a Good Breeder
1. A good breeder does health testing. If a breeder does no testing, you will have no idea what troubles could be ahead. Testing cannot guarantee 100% healthy cats, however. Even cats from tested lines can develop health problems but get as much testing behind your baby as you can for your own sense of security.
2.A good breeder shows the facility of the cattery on the website. If you cannot go to the breeder's home in person to get your kitten, don't be afraid to ask for more photos of the cats in their environment. Do not buy where many cages, especially small ones, are seen. A cage may be needed in a sick room, or a birthing room. A walk-in pen may be used to keep boys separated from girls, but anyone who has walls lined with cages is not a good place to buy from. If you are able to visit the cattery, look for relaxed and happy Maine coons who adore their people. Some Maine coons are wary of strangers but should not be frightened of them. Sometimes a shy adult will avoid visitors. But just be sure the whole cattery group is not like this. Allow the cats to watch you and sniff you while you attempt a pet and then some neck scratching. Once they allow this and are purring, you are accepted, and you can then see the personalities of the cats at this cattery. Some Maine coons are not wary of strangers and will grab you as soon as you walk in the door. It is not normal for an entire group to ignore visitors. It an individual thing and you should be able to make friends with a few within minutes with most.
3.A good cattery is not overcrowded. If you visit in person, ask to see other rooms where cats also may be living. On occasion a breeder may have two or three litters close to one another and be very full of babies, but this should not be the norm. Eight adult females and a couple males, along with kittens and a few adolescents is plenty to fill a cattery. Use your own judgment. There is no rule here, but you can tell a clean area. If you smell urine, it is possible they have a spraying male, and this smell will not go away for some time. But take a look around and make sure that the cats are happy and healthy looking. Be alert for dripping eyes, sneezing, skin problems or other signs of sickness (unless in a separated sick room). Watch out for no clutter and filth around you.
4.A good breeder is transparent about potential problems or weaknesses in certain lines. There is no disease-free line or genetic problem-free cattery. If you are being told such things, do not work with this breeder. There are always problems of some sort and if you are told of a problem in a line or litter, do not be afraid. This is a breeder who is being honest with you and that is an important beginning. If a breeder is new or being mentored, they may not know the lines well and we suggest you then contact those who are mentoring them.
5.A good breeder has a healthy diet for the cats they own and raise. Setting out kibbles and nothing else is not a proper or healthy-enough diet for most cats. There are many types of dry food now and some are very healthy while others are not. Since the cat is a carnivore, many breeders feed a raw meat program which is very healthy. But not all breeders can or want to feed raw. We can talk diet with you later, and what you want to feed is your choice. You will be able to tell a lot from observing the cats in person. Are their eyes bright and are the cats alert and happy? Do they have healthy fur and skin?
6. A good breeder should take some time to get to know you before approving you for the purchase of one of their babies. Some will ask for details of your home. Others may just ask what you are wanting in a pet. Make sure you are buying from a breeder who cares about the future of the Maine Coon breed as well as their kittens they are selling. If you are not a breeder, do not even attempt to ask for breeding rights on a kitten. All responsible breeders will either sell their kittens with a neuter/spay agreement or have them neutered or spayed before leaving their home. To become a Maine Coon breeder takes many years of research, learning and showing in premiership (neutered championship class). If purchasing from a newer breeder, ask some questions. A newer breeder should be under the mentorship of a long-term breeder.
7. A good breeder should have a pet contract that requires a basic set of rules for you to follow. You may not always like the rules in the contract, but they are important for the cat and his future. The basics every breeder should have you agree to is to never let you declaw the cat or allow the cat loose outdoors. The contract should require you to neuter/spay by a certain age (usually by 7 months) and to provide a nutritious diet and veterinary care for the life of your cat.
8. A good breeder will not allow the kittens to leave their home before the age of 12 weeks (and sometimes much later). They will provide registration papers, although some will not give those until you have the kitten neutered or spayed.
9. A good breeder does not continually sell deals. To provide good quality care, constant deals are not possible to give. Sometimes a breeder will have lower priced kittens due to lesser quality/size, an older age kitten or a spayed/neutered adult. These are fine for one-time deals. Just remember that a rule of thumb is you get what you pay for.
10. A good breeder has a good reputation. Ask other breeders, as well as pet buyers, what they know about the breeder you have in mind. Their experiences can help you decide whether you want to buy a kitten from someone. Do not be fooled by backyard breeders. Kitten mills can have very appealing websites with great pictures. They often use titles of ancestral cats and health testing results of other catteries to look reputable. Most of them have never lifted a finger to earn any titles, let alone testing any of their own breeding stock. So, make sure you ask lots of questions before committing to a purchase. A newer breeder may not yet know the answers to your questions and that is part of their learning, so do not be afraid, unless they are not being mentored. If you want a kitten from a new breeder, just ask to talk to their mentor.